E-filers just shy of half of all tax filers

Electronic filing showed strong growth this year, reaching 60 million returns, or 15.4 percent more than last year, and home computer usage jumped more than 21 percent, the IRS said today in releasing statistics from the recently completed filing season through April 30.

“It seems safe to say that next year we will reach a milestone with half of all individual returns being processed electronically,” said IRS Commissioner Mark Everson.

Taxpayers e-filed 59.7 million, or more than 49 percent, of 121.4 million returns. Last year, out of 120.6 million returns, taxpayers e-filed 51.8 million, or 43 percent.

Self-prepared tax returns that were e-filed by computer surged 21.7 percent, topping 14 million. Tax professionals also increased e-filing by 15.8 percent, with 41.7 million filing electronically this year.

In its second year, 3.4 million taxpayers used the Free File service, a partnership between the IRS and a consortium of tax software companies, 22 percent more than last year. Each private company sets its own eligibility requirements for Free File, a program targeted to underserved and disadvantaged communities. The IRS hosts the Free File Web page, but the online tax preparation occurs on the companies’ Web sites. The companies file the returns using IRS’s secure e-file transmission system.

The www.IRS.gov site and “Where’s My Refund?” feature attracted 19.2 million inquiries to check on refunds. Slightly over half, or 52 percent, of all refunds were direct deposited this year compared with 48 percent last year. Nearly 47 million taxpayers chose to direct deposit their refunds this year, an 11 percent increase from last year.

IRS expects these numbers to grow through the Aug. 15 extension deadline and the Oct. 15 deadline for those seeking a second extension.

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